The story is told of a terrible traffic accident. Police officers were called to the scene and when they arrived they found a husband, wife, and 2 children lying unconscious in the car. They pulled them from the car, and as they waited for the paramedics to arrive they noticed a monkey in the car also. Seeing that the monkey was the only witness to the accident who was conscious, the officers decided to question him about the accident. Turning to the monkey they asked, “What was the dad doing at the time of the accident?” The monkey motioned, indicating that the dad had been drinking. The officers next asked what the mother had been doing at the time of the accident. The monkey took his finger and shook it angrily at the unconscious man. The officers then asked what the children had been doing. The monkey this time indicated by hand gestures that the children had been fighting in the back seat. The officers said, “Well, no wonder there was an accident with all of that going on in the car.” As they turned to leave, almost as a parting thought they asked, “By the way, what were you doing at the time of the accident?” To which the monkey signed that he had been the one driving.
My friends, I am afraid that there are many families today headed for trouble. There are many families heading for an accident because they do not understand God’s design for the family. There are too many Fathers who do not understand God’s call for leadership, and as a result they have allowed the noisiest moneys in the group to run their family. My friends, noise does not equal leadership!
1. Leadership begins with trust – If you want your kids to give you their full commitment and passion, you have to earn their trust. You can get your children to follow you by virtue of your power or title, but they’ll only do so out of compulsion or fear. Trust is essential for long-term effective leadership.
2. Be a person of integrity – Leadership flows from who you are as a person; your values, beliefs, and attitudes. All the leadership tips, tricks, and theories won’t do you a bit of good if you aren’t a person of integrity. Get clear on your values, live them out, and don’t ever stray from them.
3. Be dependable – Your kids want consistency from their father. If you say you are going to do something, do it. Don’t make promises you aren’t absolutely sure you can keep and always follow-through on your commitments.
4. Care about your family– Leadership is all about relationships. Take a genuine interest in your wife and children and get to know them as individuals, not just as your family. Your success in life will be dependent on your ability to relate effectively with others, regardless of how smart you may be. Remember, your children don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
5. Be a thermostat, not a thermometer leader – Fathers are responsible for setting the tone for their family. Just like a thermostat controls the temperature of a room, and not merely reflects it like a thermometer, so dads need to be proactive in creating the environment for their family to do their best.
6. Don’t be afraid to fail – Failure is part of the learning process. There is no shame in putting forth your best effort and coming up short. The important thing is to take what you learn from the experience and use it to do better the next time. As Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
7. Adjust your leadership style – You can’t be a one trick pony when it comes to leadership. You have to learn to flex your leadership style to the situation. Sometimes your children will need more direction and other times they’ll need more support. It all depends on the task at hand and how capable and committed your child is to perform it. Learn to be flexible in your approach with your kids and you’ll be much more effective as a father.
8. Start by being a good follower and teammate – The best leaders have learned what it means to be a good follower or teammate. You too have to earn the right to have your family follow you, and the first step in that process is to learn what it means to be a good follower. If your family sees you following Jesus, they will trust you more as a leader.
9. Keep your sense of humor – Take fatherhood seriously but take yourself lightly. Learn to laugh and have fun with your family, and use humor to build relationships, earn your children’s trust, and keep morale high. A good laugh can make life easier.
10. Develop other leaders – Good leaders give their people opportunities to shine. Your job as a father is to develop the leadership potential of everyone under your charge. Your success is reflected in the success of others, so give your family autonomy over their work and give them all the credit when they succeed. Being a father is not about you; it’s about the people you lead, your family.
To all the fathers out there…what leadership lessons have you tried to pass on to your children? To all the children of fathers (yes, that’s you)…what leadership lessons did your father pass on to you? Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.
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